Young woman wading at the beach, in front of a covered pier. Image courtesy of Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection. The New York Public Library.

Because I could not pull the homesickness
from my clothes with all my teeth,
the skins of foreign cloth dead in my mouth,
I am the savage who tried to sew
a skirt for herself in another man’s english
and wore his eyes, like daisies, in my hair.

A jury of hands to tell me the weight of hair,
to measure my blood and its red homesickness.
Blue eyes and vomit roll from my mouth
to know how to call myself beautiful. Soft teeth
wave their surrender along the english
river beneath my tongue. I begin to sew

my name into my right palm. So
what of my animal bones and rude hair?
The eyes that spit at its ruder english?
What name they give a body shucked clean of homesickness,
when I’ve plucked and prized their teeth
and bought back my own mouth

to call myself Home? Open mouths
can weep for the misfit of their names, so
loudly, it worries the teeth.
But I will let down my hair
before this country of eyes. Homesickness
is a stolen people’s language. English

is a king’s plague. English
is conquest heard at the mouth.
Its eyes blink sapphire at homesickness.
I laugh with my own alphabet; sew
my flag with the thread of my hair
and cut it with my teeth.

Let the bones and the teeth
clang about their ivory, in the english
meant to grind them. Let the hair
conjure some dark weather. My mouth
licks the wet wounds of my eyes. So
quiet is skin peeled raw from homesickness.

I wrestle their teeth until they are the fangs in my mouth.
I cast the eyes and their little english into a heat so
wild, it made a beast of me. My hair, the flames growling homesickness.

Sasha Banks’ work has been featured or is forthcoming in PBS Newshour, RHINO, Kinfolks Quarterly, Poor Claudia, B O D Y Literature, and The Collagist. She received her MFA in Writing & Activism at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Explore Related Content